Saturday, September 29, 2012

Milkshakes for breakfast? Yes, please!

I am sure you know how important eating breakfast is.  It kicks off your metabolism, helps you wake up, gives you energy, and keeps you from overeating later in the day.  My ideal breakfast would be fried eggs with turkey franks or an omelet, but in order to eat that every day, I would have to wake up 30 minutes earlier.  Even though I love eating, it is still not enough to make me get up at 5:40 am every day.  And what about those of you who have kids?  There is even less time in the morning to take care of yourself.  I guess I could go with oatmeal for breakfast, but my husband is really against carbs (unless it is sweet potato chips we are talking about).  Moreover, I like having my breakfast on the way to work, and eating oatmeal while driving on the highway would be quite dangerous.  When I started thinking about what could be fast to make and easy to consume on the way to work, protein shakes came to mind.  Protein satisfies hunger and keeps you full longer than carbs, so it was an easy and convenient option.  

My usual shakes consisted of chocolate protein powder, peanut butter, water, and ice, all mixed in a blender.  They tasted very good, and I did not get tired of them.  However, there is always room for improvement, and I was looking for ways to change it up a little.  I was looking mainly on Pinterest and found something that was actually worth trying (unlike many other Pinterest things).  I found a blog called Dashing Dish that had amazing recipes for protein shakes that would taste pretty much like milkshakes.  It is hard to express my excitement in words!!!  I was truly inspired to find the best combinations of flavors and experimented throughout the last two weeks.  Even if you do not plan to drink these wonderful creamy milkshakes for breakfast, you should definitely give them a try to satisfy sugar cravings!

The Base of Any Shake
- 1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese (about 80 cal)
- 1 scoop of protein powder (about 120 cal)
- 0-2 pkts of low-calorie sweeteners
- 1/2 cup water
- 15 ice cubes

Just a couple of notes about the base:
- Cottage cheese gives the shakes creamy consistency, adds calcium and protein, but not its flavor! Do not worry!
- Vanilla protein powder is the best neutral base to add flavors to, but you can get flavored protein powder to cut calories (i.e., if you absolutely love bananas, just get banana-flavored protein powder and do not add real bananas to the base)
- Add sweeteners at the very end after you try your shake, if you still want it to be sweeter
- Add more water and less ice if you want your shake to be thinner
- The base would be about 200 cal

And now to the best part: you can add anything you want to your shakes to make them taste delicious! Below are my 6 favorite shakes, but you can be as creative as you want to.

Peanut Butter Nutty Shake (these ingredients are added to the base)
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 2 tbsp sugar free butterscotch pudding mix (optional)
- 1 tbsp Vanilla Butter and Nut extract (optional, can be found in the baking aisle)

Pistachio Shake (this ingredient is added to the base)
- 2 tbsp sugar free pistachio pudding mix

Snicker-doodle Shake (these ingredients are added to the base)
- 1 tbsp sugar free hazelnut extract or 2 tbsp sugar free hazelnut dry creamer
- dash of cinnamon
- 2 tbsp sugar free vanilla pudding mix (optional if you are using vanilla protein powder)

Peanut Butter Java Shake (these ingredients are added to the base)
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp instant coffee
- 1 tbsp chocolate chips (optional)

Banana Cream Pie Shake (these ingredients are added to the base)
- 1 banana
- 2 tbsp sugar free vanilla pudding mix (optional)

Oatmeal Cookie Shake (these ingredients are added to the base)
- 2 tbs oats
- dash of cinnamon 
- 1 tbsp chocolate chips (optional)

Be creative, let your imagination take you as far as you want to!  Bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and different extracts can bring flavor to your protein shakes.  You will love your mornings!  And do not forget to take good care of yourself.  As it is said in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price.  Therefore, honor God with your body."  If you feel like you do not have enough motivation to treat your body nicely, realization that by taking care of yourself you are honoring God should be quite a boost!  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Roasted Pears With Feta

I found an interesting recipe not long ago, and we decided to give it a try. Since we are open to new things and like experimenting, roasted pears with feta sounded fun. We bought two pears, a green one and a red one, to see which one would turn out better. We both liked the red pear better, since it was sweeter. The green pear was crispier and less sweet. 

You will need:
- Two pears
- Two 1" cubes of crumbled feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degree F. Wash, halve, and core pears. Spray each half with cooking spray; place on baking sheet, skin-side down. Sprinkle slightly with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. 

2. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly, then sprinkle with feta.

3. Enjoy!

Makes 2 servings.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Thriving During Deployment

I think we are more or less ready for my husband's deployment. I mean, as much as you can get ready for the love of your life  to leave you for several months. However, it is all about attitude, and we are trying to be positive. A good attitude will encourage and give us hope when we are confronted by this challenge. 

When facing separation, some couples look at it as the time when their relationship and lives are put on hold. They often say, "When this deployment is over, then we will start living again." Simply surviving during separation is not a good option, since life, as you know, is short. Why waste this precious time when both you and your spouse can grow individually and as a family instead? Our firm decision for this separation is as follows: We don't want to just survive. We want to thrive! 

Do you have a list of things that you want to do but keep postponing them to some later, unknown, time? Is there a book that lies on your shelf and collects dust, and every time you see it, you remind yourself that you want to read it one day? I know I have such a list. When I was studying for CPA exams, I made a list of things I would do as soon as I passed the exams. Some of them were learning how to play piano, re-reading my favorite book, "Master and Margarita" by M. Bulgakov, cross-stitching, and improving my Spanish. However, even after I passed my exams (and got licensed), I never got to doing those things. Something seemed to be always in the way. We are actually excited about this deployment because it will be a unique opportunity for us to do all those things we always wanted to do. My husband, Lord willing, will be able to work out consistently and to plan our future. I will be able to read that book and to spend more time growing professionally. Finally, we will be able to focus on our spirituality and to grow closer to our Lord. 

However exciting it may sound, we will need to be very mindful of each other and to include each other in our lives. I do not want to discover a completely different person in place of my husband when he returns home. Likewise, I  want him to recognize me. While we will be growing individually, we will share our new experiences with each other. We will still support and care for each other. I want to become a better wife for my husband, and I will take every minute of this deployment to improve myself, spiritually, physically, and mentally. He is my main motivator to be the best companion for him!

Separation does not have to be a dark and difficult time. We cannot control our circumstances, but we can change our attitudes about those circumstances. After this deployment, my husband will never leave me for a long time again, and we will start growing our family, Lord willing. These several months may as well be my last chance to get to those things from the to-do list! And I am not going to waste it.